The 911 GT3 is pure Porsche. The new Porsche 911 GT3 strikes the balance like almost no other. With a four-litre flat engine, the 911 GT3 generates its power using the same engine as the thoroughbred 911 GT3 Cup racing car. The GT3 hasn’t been redesigned for 2018, but it has received several speed-enhancing improvements. Its new naturally aspirated flat-six now displaces 4.0 litres, and is lifted right out of the GT3 Cup race car. It pumps out 500 horsepower and 340 lb.-ft. of peak torque, an increase of 25 hp and 15 lb.-ft over the previous 3.8 L engine.
The engine didn’t just grow in displacement; there’s some other high-speed sorcery going on. Despite this new solid cam-follower setup, valve adjustment is not necessary for the life of the car, according to Porsche.
The first- and second-generation GT3s came only with a six-speed manual gearbox, which was replaced by a seven-speed PDK in the third-gen model in 2016. The PDK powertrain pushed the GT3 from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4 sec., while the manual adds a half second.
“Paddle neutral” is an interesting feature that comes with the PDK. Pulling on the steering wheel paddles simultaneously disengages the clutches until the paddles are released again. This feature can be used to transfer weight forward if the car understeers in wet conditions, and can also be used to break the rear end loose if drifting is your thing, though you’ll have to turn off the traction control to do so. It also allows you to launch the car violently from a stop if that, too, is your thing.
Externally there’s a new fascia, and the carbon-fibre rear wing is 20 millimetres taller than before, changes that combine with revised under-body aerodynamics to add up to 155 kilograms of downforce.
There’s no real graceful way to step into or climb out of the GT3; it’s akin to stepping into your bathtub through a hole in the wall. But once you’re seated, controls reach out to you rather than the other way around. The GT3 is built for the track, and if you want the full racetrack experience, you should order yours with the optional $5,940 carbon-fibre full bucket seats. You’ll need a shoehorn to squeeze into them, and you’ll surely regret choosing them if you drone along the highway for more than an hour or so, but they keep you planted through high-speed corners on a racetrack as though you’re wearing Velcro pants.
On the road to the racetrack there’s no other way to describe the GT3 other than brash. If you want to be coddled in a Porsche, get a Panamera.
Turn onto the gt3 and a racetrack rewards with visceral feedback, seat-foam-crushing acceleration, and seatbelt-stretching braking. It steers with remarkable accuracy, and is surprisingly forgiving for a rear-engined car. However, its forgiving nature can be credited to its electronic stability control. Its safety-net system is so finely tuned it’ll have you believing you’re a better driver than you are.
Sport mode allows the car to get sideways when pushed hard, yet it brings the wheels back in line seamlessly without going too far. In one of the faster right hand sweepers at the track, the rear would often step out when accelerating past the apex, though the car regained its composure with less driver input that would be needed if those 500 horses were unleashed onto the pavement unchecked. This might lead some drivers to think they’re really hot behind the wheel, a good driver gives credit where it’s due; it was mostly the car.
On the track, the PDK gearbox provides instantaneous gear changes up and down when shifted manually, and is remarkably accurate with shifting automatically in Sport mode, almost always in the right gear, at the right time. A session in a manual car reminded me why I still prefer a third pedal: the tight, narrow gate, and the precision of the GT3’s shift knob, combined with the assistance of auto rev-matching in Sport mode, provides the sensation of total driver control, even if the electronics still save my backside invisibly in the background.
And those brakes! Unless you plan on pasting numbers onto your GT3 and trailering it to the track, there’s no need to opt for the composite braking system, which adds about ten grand to the price. The standard brakes stop hard, with excellent brake feel and no fade, at least after five consecutive laps on a brake-heavy racetrack.
Perhaps stating the obvious, the 911 GT3 is no commuter car. You compromise some comfort on the street, though it is just accommodating enough for the drive to your favourite racetrack. Its once you get there that you’ll appreciate its on-track wizardry.
The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 will be arriving at dealers in late summer, at a starting price of $163,300.